The Oglala Sioux Tribe is making history by working with the National Park Service to create the first tribal national park, located on a wild stretch of 133,000 acres, within the Park Service. The management of this new park will respect the traditional beliefs and practices of the land’s ancestral owners.

Read about the plan to restore some 1,000 bison to the land: http://wwf.to/11bPmb9


It’s a lot like a talking circle. Everybody gets a chance to talk without interruption. It’s done in a respectful way. It’s confidential.
—  Oglala Sioux tribe Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl • Discussing the South Dakota tribe’s unusual method of sentencing people convicted of crimes in the community. In the sentencing circle, people involved in the case — including prosecutors, police, victims, relatives and others with an interest in the suspect’s punishment — get to talk about their issues with the case, allowing the offender to get a punishment tailored to their specific situation. It takes time (the first test case, which originated in Family and Child Court, started in February) and some worry about the surfacing victims’ dark memories, but Red Owl hopes that the sentencing method better holds community members accountable and encourages a form of justice that helps the community at large. A very fascinating test.

This Sept. 9, 2012 file photo shows the entrance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Sioux tribe. | CREDIT: AP/Kristi Eaton, File.

Four members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit in September claiming that the county’s failure to provide a satellite voting site on the Pine Ridge Reservation disadvantaged members of the Native American community, and violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. | DOJ Weighs In On South Dakota’s Native American Voting Rights Lawsuit

Oglala Sioux Tribe Demands Justice For Crimes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Violence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is far too familiar; grievance for lost loved ones hangs heavy in the air. At times, the commonality of murder and violence has been so exceptional that it cannot be understood by its own people.

A perpetual state of mourning consumes much of the population due to the federal government’s neglect of its duties to investigate and prosecute murders on the Reservation, but a dedicated group of Tribal officials is now taking action to restore justice at Pine Ridge.

Fed up with federal apathy, Oglala officials are now demanding that agencies, including the Department of Justice and the FBI, take action. Since the 1970s, and some would even argue the 1950s, homicides on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have been largely overlooked by the federal government. The number of murders that have been inadequately investigated and ineffectively prosecuted, if at all, is an outrage. In the 1970s, violence plagued the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Between March 1, 1973, and March 1, 1976, the murder rate on the Reservation soared to 170 per 100,000; the highest nationwide.”


Huge SCOTUS ruling does little to clear up issues in South Dakota lawsuit

As you’ve probably read by now, the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to limit the scope of the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law written by a former SD Senator designed to provide additional protections to Indian parents during child custody proceedings.

The case of Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl involved a father who asserted his ICWA rights in an attempt to block an adoption that had been cleared by a state court. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that ICWA applied, and sent the child home with her father after more than two years living with non-Indian adoptive parents.

One natural question might be “what effect will this ruling have on the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit claiming that temporary custody hearings in Rapid City violate ICWA?”

It’s hard to say, really. The line from one case to the other is not direct. One is about ICWA’s application in the termination of parental rights for a father who never had any kind of custody. The other is about the direct removal of Indian children from a parent or guardian who had been caring for them.

That’s not to say that the ruling doesn’t have far-reaching implications for South Dakota or that it doesn’t speak to the high court’s feelings about the law. It only means the cases involve wildly different scenarios.

In the 5-4 ruling issued today, the justices found that ICWA does not apply to cases involving the termination of parental rights if the parent never had or attempted to assert custody of the Indian child.

The opposing side argued that ICWA does apply to the termination of parental rights involving Indian children. They’d won at the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ultimately sent the child home with her biological father.

Whether ICWA applies in a given case is an extraordinarily important question. If the Act applies, a court cannot terminate parental rights unless it finds, beyond a reasonable doubt, through the testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that continued custody with an Indian parent would put the child in serious danger.

The court also must find that active efforts at family reunification have taken place.

The new opinion’s author, Justice Samuel Alito, sided with the couple who’d adopted the baby when he wrote that ICWA was designed to prevent the “breakup” of Indian families, not to confer rights to parents who haven’t asserted them.

He wrote that it is unnecessary for courts to parse the details of potential damage to a child through “continued custody” if no such custody existed in the first place, and that the “active efforts” to keep a family together under ICWA do not apply under such a scenario.

The ruling also states that it’s okay for a non-Indian family to adopt a child if no Indian families come forward to do so.

Alito’s ruling points out that the father had offered no support to the biological mother during the pregnancy or afterward and that he only asserted his rights after learning of the adoption.

Applying ICWA in a case like that, Alito wrote, doesn’t comport with Congress’ stated intention in passing the law, namely to halt the alarming removal of Indian children from their homes by state agencies with cultural biases.

Extending that reach to parents who’ve never made a home for their children goes beyond the scope of that intention, he wrote. If there is no “continued custody” to preserve, he wrote, there is no need to invoke the law.

The South Carolina court’s reasoning was flawed, he said.

 “As the State Supreme Court read §§1912(d) and (f ), a biological Indian father could abandon his child in utero and refuse any support for the birth mother—perhaps contributing to the mother’s decision to put the child up for adoption—and then could play his ICWA trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother’s decision and the child’s best interests.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected that logic in her dissent, zeroing in on the majority’s narrow interpretation of the phrase “continued custody.” The physical or legal custody status of a child shouldn’t alter the additional protections afforded to Indian parents under ICWA, she wrote.

“…in the majority’s view, a family bond that does not take custodial form is not a family bond worth preserving from ‘breakup.’”

She goes on to state that the Court has repeatedly recognized the inherent relationship a biological parent has with a child, and points to specific provisions in ICWA that recognize as much.

So now we’re back to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s claim against the state. It doesn’t involve adoptions at all. It involves temporary custody hearings.

The Indian parents in that lawsuit assert that their children were removed from their homes by law enforcement, and that the temporary custody hearings that took place 48 hours later did not afford them any meaningful opportunity to assert their rights under ICWA.

If the parent appears at the temporary custody hearing, they don’t even get to see the police and DSS reports that outline the alleged abuse and neglect that lead to the removal.The Oglala lawsuit seeks to have similarly-situated parents established as a class, as well.

Unlike the father of Baby Girl,the Oglala parents had physical custody before the proceedings in question.

The lawsuit speaks to a long-simmering issues in South Dakota.Tribal leaders gathered in Rapid City this Spring to talk about what they call an epidemic of removal. They say Indian children are taken from homes and situations where white children would be allowed to stay, that Indian children stay in foster care too long, and that the state of South Dakota makes it too difficult for parents to answer the claims made by law enforcement or the Department of Social Services.

Jeff Davis, the Rapid City judge named as a defendant in the lawsuit, has asked for the whole thing to be thrown out.

He says ICWA does not prevent states from initiating emergency custody actions, and that ICWA’s provisions do not apply to those hearings. He citesSouth Dakota Supreme Court case of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe vs. Davis.

The rules of evidence don’t apply at the hearings, he said. It is at the next hearing, which is supposed to take place within 30 to 90 days, that the parents can see the allegations against them, that they are advised of the rights and that they are allowed to present evidence. At that hearing, the court must find by “clear and convincing evidence” that continued placement with an Indian parent is dangerous.

At any point in the proceedings, tribes can assert their right to have a case involving an Indian child transferred to tribal court.

The Oglala plaintiffs don’t buy it. They assert that no parent – especially a parent afforded additional protections by federal law – ought to lose their children for 30 to 90 days based on what their lawyers refer to as a “sham” hearing.

That’s a far cry from the situation the father of Baby Girl found himself in. He was never accused of abuse or neglect. His daughter had never even lived with him.

As monumental as the SCOTUS decision is, it doesn’t provide much clarity or guidance for the parties involved in South Dakota’s most high-profile ICWA dispute. 

Whiteclay, Oglala Sioux Tribe, and My Synopsis

I spent 5-6 hours researching on the internet about what is going on north of me.

I still don’t fully understand, but this is what I have gathered so far…

Breaks down into: Oglala Sioux Tribe has a high rate of alcoholism and alcohol related deaths, the tribe has banned all consumption or possession of alcohol, on the border Whiteclay has 14 people but is yet has 4 liquor stores that sell around 3.9 million bottles of beer a year. People are protesting. There now is vandalism and threats towards the stores in Whiteclay. Police arrested one activist and want to arrest more. Yesterday, they arrested Oglala Sioux Tribe’s President during a protest about a check that didn’t clear over a year ago.

If I am wrong or misunderstanding anything, please let me know.

Indian activist Russell Means Had Died

SAN FRANCISCO – American native, Russell Means, a one time leader of the American Indian Movement has died. He was 72. Means, who died Monday from throat cancer, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee — a bloody confrontation that raised America’s awareness about the…

Beer Brewers Exploit Members Of Oglala Sioux Tribe

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“After seeing Anheuser-Busch’s devastating exploitation of American Indians, I’m done with its beer.

The human toll is evident here in Whiteclay: men and women staggering on the street, or passed out, whispers of girls traded for alcohol. The town has a population of about 10 people, but it sells more than four million cans of beer and malt liquor annually — because it is the main channel through which alcohol illegally enters the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation a few steps away. Pine Ridge, one of America’s largest Indian reservations, bans alcohol.

The Oglala Sioux who live there struggle to keep alcohol out, going so far as to arrest people for possession of a can of beer. But the tribe has no jurisdiction over Whiteclay because it is just outside the reservation boundary.”

Get the Story: Nicholas D. Kristof: A Battle With the Brewers (The New York Times 5/6)

Oglala Sioux Tribe Baffled By Missing Bison

The following story was written and reported by Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION, SOUTH DAKOTA –– In a case eerily reminiscent of the recent turmoil on the Cheyenne River Reservation stemming from that tribe’s near loss of its buffalo herd in a legal battle, the Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently in search of some missing buffalo. Reports started circulating last month that the tribe’s buffalo herd count was off by approximately 100-150 head, though estimates are wildly inconsistent. It is also unclear how many total head of the traditionally revered creatures the tribe actually owns.

The tribal administration’s lack of accountability for the livestock has sent a shockwave of disbelief and speculation throughout this large, landlocked island community. Many residents will not speak publicly about the controversy for fear of retaliation by those in charge of both internal and external governmental dealings.

The case is being jointly investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services. According to some tribal members, deputies from the nearby Sheridan County Sheriff’s Department in Nebraska shot and killed a few of the tribe’s roaming buffalo near Gordon, which lies some 40 miles to the south of the intermingled Pine Ridge Reservation and South Dakota borders.

Not so, says Sheridan County Sheriff Terry Robbins. “I know that the Sheridan County Sheriff’s office has not shot any buffalo,” said Robbins. “Whether they belong to the (Oglala Sioux) Tribe or anybody else, we have shot no buffalo,” he said. Robbins said that the tribe has contacted him in the past to inquire as to whether or not any wandering buffalo had been reported in the area. “We found none roaming,” he said. The tribe said it was missing some buffalo, said Robbins, but we never did see any roaming in Sheridan County. There have also never been any reports of Sheridan County residents shooting and killing buffalo, according to Robbins. OST Council Fifth Member Myron Pourier said that the case should be coming to a close soon, according to information given to him by the Office of Justice Services’ lead investigator, John Long. Long, who serves as supervisory special agent for the OJS, could not be reached for comment about the ongoing investigation.

Pourier also serves as vice chairman of the board of directors for the tribe’s Parks and Recreation Authority, which manages the buffalo herd. He declined to comment further, instead referring Native Sun News to the tribe’s attorney in the matter, Charles Abourezk of Rapid City, for additional comment. Abourezk, however, could not be contacted for an interview. According to Bob Perry, supervisory senior resident agent with the FBI in Rapid City, around 80 buffalo are missing from the OST’s ranks. “We’re not calling them stolen or anything else, we’re just saying that we, along with the BIA, are looking into the fact that there’s some buffalo missing from the tribe,” he said.

Several tribal members contend that the Parks and Recreation Authority has mismanaged the buffalo herd almost to the point of extinction on the reservation.

“The buffalo are sacred to us as Lakota people,” said one concerned OST member, who requested to remain anonymous. “Without them, we have nothing. Without them, we are nothing.” Calls to the tribe’s president, John Yellow Bird Steele, and vice president, Tom Poor Bear, were not returned.

(Contact Jesse Abernathy at editor@nsweekly.com)


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Pine Ridge school hosts first bison ceremony

 “Be proud of who you are. This is our tradition!” said Charles Spotted Thunder as he spoke to the students of Isna Wica Owayawa (Loneman School) in Oglala on Monday, Apr. 20.Students and staff gathered outside of Loneman School for a ceremony for the harvesting and processing of a 3-year old buffalo from the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Slim Butte’s pasture.


April 30, 2015

Jeffrey Parsons, Attorney 303-823-5738
Lilias Jarding, Ph.D., 605-787-2872 (Clean Water Alliance)
Debra White Plume, lakotaone@gmail.com (Owe Aku)

Opponents of a proposed uranium mine claimed victory today, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled that proper procedures have not been followed to protect Native American cultural resources and that further action must be taken to protect water resources before the proposed mining project can go forward. The Dewey-Burdock mine is proposed for Fall River and Custer Counties in southwestern South Dakota.

The ASLB required that Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff go back and do proper consultation with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, one of the parties in the licensing procedure. According to Jeffrey Parsons, attorney for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, “As we have argued from the start of this process over five years ago, Powertech/Azarga and the NRC staff have never conducted an adequate review of impacts to cultural resources, and also did not impose sufficient controls to protect aquifers from contamination through historic drill holes. The Board ruling today confirms these major flaws in the company’s analysis.”

Debra White Plume of Owe Aku/Bring Back the Way added, “The ASLB decision regarding the NRC’s violation of its own standards is a battle victory in the multilayered, protracted paper war to protect sacred water and cultural and sacred places from extractive industries that intend to operate without meaningful regulation and oversight.”

Analysis by Dr. Hannan LaGarry, a geologist, indicates that there are at least 7,500 historic drill holes on the proposed mine site, as well as faults, at least one sinkhole, and artesian springs – all of which create the likelihood that water contamination could not be controlled, if mining is allowed to proceed. The ASLB ruling requires that, prior to conducting tests at the site, the company must “attempt to locate and properly abandon all historic drill holes located within the perimeter well ring for the wellfield. The licensee will document, and provide to the NRC, such efforts to identify and properly abandon all drill holes.”

“We have been heard and acknowledged,” said Sarah Peterson of It’s All About the Water.

“Hopefully, the company and the NRC recognize the significance of the ruling today, and they will stop trying to both gloss over the serious problems with the proposed project and to move forward on the cheap,” said Lilias Jarding of Clean Water Alliance. “We must protect our water and our economy from imprudent development of radioactive uranium mining,” added Gena Parkhurst, Chairperson of the Black Hills Chapter of Dakota Rural Action.


Dakota Rural Action is a grassroots family agriculture and conservation group that organizes South Dakotans to protect our family farmers and ranchers, natural resources, and unique way of life. www.dakotarural.org

It’s All About the Water is a grassroots group based in Fall River County, S.D.

Owe Aku is a grassroots cultural preservation and human rights nongovernmental organization headquartered on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation.


The Clean Water Alliance is a diverse collection of citizens concerned about the health, environmental, and economic impacts that proposed uranium mining projects would have on our communities, people, economy, and natural resources. Our goal is to prevent uranium mining in the Black Hills region, and to protect our valuable resources for future generations.


Activists work for Native American-friendly site names

WOUNDED KNEE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s Shannon County will now be Oglala Lakota County, removing the name of a man who Oglala Sioux Tribe activists say helped with negotiations that were a precursor for the breakup of tribal lands.

from Yahoo News - Top Stories http://do.co.vu/1Eyowfy

 Pine Ridge Reservation among latest named as ‘Promise Zone’

The Obama administration has named the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota as a Promise Zone.The designation will help the Oglala Sioux Tribe and other entities address economic conditions on the reservation. According to today’s announcement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture